Give Yourself the Gift of "A Christmas Carol"!

Have you ever read "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens? I'm not talking about seeing a movie version - have you ever read the classic Dickens novella?

You haven't?

Or maybe you have and it's been a long time?

Regardless, do yourself a favor and give yourself the gift of "A Christmas Carol" this holiday season! It's a perennial favorite that never gets old or tiresome.
"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!" -- Scrooge's nephew, Fred
Here is version that is free on Kindle.

Here are several different text versions from Project Gutenberg.

There is a free, unabridged audiobook version here: Dramatized version of "A Christmas Carol" at Librivox

If dramatized readings (where different narrators play different parts) aren't your style, Librivox has several different solo readings. This is my favorite.
"Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see." - Bob Cratchit
This is an abridged version of A Christmas Carol read by Sir Patrick Stewart. (It's also available on iTunes, which is where I bought my copy.) He traveled around the country doing this as a one-man show at one time, so it's an excellent listening (and very reminiscent of the movie version that he starred in, which is my personal favorite). I just wish it wasn't abridged because the story in its entirety is so delightful.

Here is an audiobook version, unabridged, read by Tim Curry. I've never listened to it but it's on my wish list.

Whichever you choose, enjoy!
"And God bless us, every one!" - Tiny Tim

In Remembrance

You never walked upon the earth,
But I remember you.
We couldn't celebrate your birth,
But I remember you.

We've never seen your little face,
But I remember you.
You're buried in a distant place,
But I remember you.

It's been eight years since you passed on,
But I remember you.
So many friends don't know you're gone,
But I remember you.

And if you'd lived, who would you be?
It must remain unknown.
But God has promised that we'll see
Our saint in heaven grown. 

I hold on to that hope each day
And pray that you will know
That even though I'm far away
Your mommy loves you so.

In loving memory of Noel Wahlund, lost to miscarriage 12/19/2006. 

A Long Overdue Update

Has it really been more than a month since I blogged? Yikes. I keep meaning to do Quick Takes on Fridays but then I get distracted and it slips my mind.

Here's an update on what's been happening lately at La Casa Wahlund. I promise I'll try to do better!

1. Peter turned 1 on October 7.

He's gotten more mobile, army crawling around and getting into EVERYTHING. 

2. We took a family vacation to Zion National Park in Utah. These pictures don't begin to do justice to how gorgeous it is.

We also stopped by the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

3. William and Violet started T-ball the week of October 20. They have practices every Wednesday and games most Saturdays. 

4. Halloween was a blast! I was so pleased with how the kids' costumes turned out. In September I saw a toddler-sized Scooby-Doo costume at Goodwill for $8, and I thought how cool it would be if all the kids dressed up as Mystery Incorporated (they watch it on Netflix and are big fans). I scoured secondhand shops (both local and online), Wal-Mart, and their closets, and we managed to pull it together pretty well:

Elanor as Daphne Blake, William as Fred Jones, Violet as Velma Dinkley,
Peter as Norville "Shaggy" Rogers, and Gabriel as Scooby-Doo 
5. A few weeks ago, my employer announced that the office had run out of desks and we'd be moving to a desk-sharing program (where two people would work from home on alternate days and share a desk in the office). I asked for and was granted permission to work from home Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays! It's almost like getting a raise (and it probably is similar what with I'll be saving in gas). I'm so thrilled to be getting six hours of my life back every week.

6. I turned 34 on November 3. I had a wonderful day - I took a vacation day off of work and had a whole day to myself. I got a haircut, browsed used bookstores, and had a nice quiet supper all by myself. It was glorious. Thanks to a generous birthday check from my FIL, I bought new hiking boots and $60 worth of books at the used bookstores I went to (yes, I am an addict).

7. And some BIG news... Collin has a new job! He'll be working as a programmer for one of the local school districts (not ours, but one bordering ours). He starts on Monday. We're so happy and thankful to God for this new opportunity!

So, that's what's going on with us. Now we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and five more birthdays to look forward to (Gabriel, Collin, Elanor, William, and Violet have their birthdays in November, December, January, February, and March, respectively).

7 Quick Takes of Peter! October 3, 2014

Peter turns ONE on Tuesday! Can you believe it?? I can't! His party is this weekend and we are going to have a blast! In his honor, here are some of my favorite pictures of my little guy. (I might do a Part II next week, as I have so many great pictures of him!)

One of my first glimpses of that sweet face

shortly after his (very speedy) birth

First Halloween!

Happy guy

Big smiles for great-grandma Violet

Little tease

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

How Would You Respond to this Pro-Abortion Argument?

The original comment can be found here, on this post at the blog, if you want to read more of its context. I've already responded, but I'm just curious as to how others would respond.
Women still die from pregnancy, and it doesn't matter how rare or how common certain afflictions are. It is a FACT that not every complication can be predicted, prevented or cured. Women will die. Period. We can't predict which women will die, or how many. But some will die. By forcing women to remain pregnant against their will you are effectively denying women the inalienable right to life. You are rolling the dice with women's lives.
What would you say to this person?

Adding a random picture, because every blog post can be improved with Commander Spock.

7 Quick Takes Friday - September 26, 2014

Apologies in advance, but this is going to be an exasperated quick takes; I have a few things to get off my chest.

Russell Pearce is an idiot. According to him, I should be forcibly sterilized because my family qualifies for Medicaid. Hello, Mr. Pearce, I work full-time but my salary alone is not such that our family can easily get by. And believe me, my husband is diligently searching for a job so we can get off Medicaid as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this is a crappy economy. Want to loan us $50,000 so we can manage for a year without public assistance? No? Then shut your piehole. (And yes, I did write him a letter saying this, although in slightly more tactful terms.)

I adore the blog at, but the combox has been overrun with pro-abort trolls. I think that most people have simply stopped commenting because it is just so wearying to deal with the constant attacks and slurs. For example, take a look at the following exchange I had today (it's long, so feel free to scroll past -- and apologies if, after seeing this, you sustain a head injury due to the force of your facepalm):

Why do I even try? Oh, I know... it's for the lurkers. I was converted to the pro-life cause in large part because I read tons of blog articles, and their subsequent comboxes, debating the different issues. I never participated, though. I'm hoping that other silent lurkers may be similarly convinced.

Then there's this idiocy, in which Obama et al are encouraging businesses to refuse to serve other businesses that buy and sell firearms. So.... let me get this straight. I can refuse to serve a gun owner, or a business owner that buys/sells guns, but I can't refuse to participate in a gay wedding? How does that work, exactly?

William came home with this assignment the other day:

I don't really mind the assignment itself -- yes, it's obnoxious to have projects that require direct parental assistance given that I have already gone through first grade and certainly don't need to repeat the process by working on an assignment, but whatever. The pennies requirement made me raise my eyebrows. And penalizing kids who can't find pennies from 2007-8 to present? Whaaaa? That is so dependent on dumb luck that it's baffling to me. We very rarely carry cash anymore, and I don't really want to go to the bank and get rolls of pennies in hopes that we'll get the right ones.

Thankfully my awesome friend Rose dug through her change jar and found all the pennies we need, but still. I could see making it an extra-credit aspect of the assignment, but it just seems grossly unfair to make it a requirement that you're penalized for not fulfilling.

Anyway. In happier news, we've scheduled Peter's first birthday party for October 4! How is it possible that my baby is turning one already??? *sob*

Please, please continue praying for our family. Collin still has had no luck on the job front as of yet... he's had a few interviews, but no offers. It's discouraging to say the least. Thank you!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes Friday - September 12, 2014

--- 1 ---

No concrete news on Collin's job front yet, sigh. Continued prayers are appreciated.

--- 2 ---

I wrote an article for SecularProLife last week about why it's horrible to call abortion and miscarriage the same thing. (You wouldn't think people would need that explained, would you?) You can read it here: Precision of Language, Please, New York Times

Do yourself a favor and don't read the comments; apparently the article struck a nerve with many pro-abortion trolls, one of whom called Noel, the baby I miscarried in 2006, a "meatball." Stay klassy, pro-abortioneers.

--- 3 ---

Peter turned 11 months old on the 7th! I can't believe my baby is going to be a year old soon! I took this adorable YouTube video of him the other day; while I was filming, he said one of his three words ("Mama"!). The other two words he says are "Dada" and "Kee" (kitty).

--- 4 ---

He's not crawling yet but he is getting very, very close - it should be any day now. Plus he's been trying to pull himself up to a standing position lately. *sob* Where'd my baby go??

--- 5 ---

I did see "The Giver" a few weeks back and I thought it was excellent! Don't believe the reviews -- the changes made were, I thought, mostly necessary. (It wasn't a perfect movie, but by and large it was very well done, I thought.)
--- 6 ---

Collin and I celebrated 13 years of marriage on September 1! We were able to see a movie ("Guardians of the Galaxy," which was also excellent!) and then go out for dinner. We had a marvelous time.

--- 7 ---

My carpool partner found a new job so starting next week I'll be driving alone again. :( I haven't had any luck finding a new partner, but hopefully I will. Not being able to take the carpool lane is going to be frustrating.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes Friday - August 22, 2014

--- 1 ---

Collin has several job prospects on the horizon. I don't want to go into more detail than that, so apologies for the vagueness, but could you please pray for us and our discernment?

--- 2 ---

Congratulations to Amy (and her husband) from This Cross I Embrace! I have been praying for them for years, and I'm so overjoyed that they are parents at last! I was so happy when I heard the news that I teared up.

--- 3 ---

Peter had an orthopedist appointment yesterday. The doctor said his feet continue to look great! He did order some adjustments to his brace, but the pediatric orthopedics shop was booked so we can't get those done until next week.

sweet little feet
--- 4 ---

Speaking of Peter, look who is allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllmost crawling:

He hasn't quite figured it out yet, but he's very close. *gulp*

--- 5 ---

The kids started school on August 7 - Ellie in 4th grade and William in 1st. Sigh... time flies.

--- 6 ---

In contrast, here is a picture of me and my brother in 1987, on our first day of school -- he was starting 3rd grade and I was starting 1st grade.

 Am I rocking that '80s hair or what? And check out Matt's totally rad suspenders!

--- 7 ---

I'm going to try and see The Giver this weekend (Collin saw it last weekend and liked it quite a bit). I've read that while there are some notable differences from the book (which is one of my favorite books of all time), Lois Lowry approved them all and also said that some made the story better.

Did you know that The Giver has three sequels? I'm actually surprised at how few people know that. I didn't know myself until a few years ago, and I only read the fourth very recently. (The fourth is the best of the sequels, in my opinion, but they are all great!)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Over at Catholic Stand...

...I've provided a helpful guide on when it's permissible to use NFP to avoid pregnancy.

You can read it here.

Also, just a reminder that the coupon code for the Organic Mama Shop ends TOMORROW!

Whole Wheat Pita Bread in the Bread Machine

Thank you to Heidi for the recipe! I made it last weekend and ate it this weekend (it was in the freezer all week). Very tasty pita bread, and wonderful with roasted garlic hummus.

1.5 pound:  
1 and 1/8 water
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp active dry yeast 

1 pound:
7/8 cup water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in bread pan, select Dough setting, and press Start.

When dough has risen long enough, the machine will beep.  Turn off bread machine, remove bread pan, and turn out dough onto a floured countertop or cutting board.  Gently roll and stretch dough into a 12 inch rope.

1.5 pound:  with a sharp knife, divide dough into 8 pieces
1 pound:  with a sharp knife, divide dough into 6 pieces

Roll each piece into a smooth ball.  With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6 inch circle.  Set aside on a lightly floured countertop:  cover with a towel.  Let pitas rise about 30 minutes until slightly puffy.

Position oven rack in the middle of oven:  preheat to 500ºF.  Place 2 or 3 pitas on a wire cake rack.  Place cake rack directly onto oven rack.  Bake pitas 4 to 5 minutes until puffed and tops begin to brown.  Remove from oven and immediately place pitas in a sealed brown paper bag or cover them with a damp kitchen towel until soft.  Once the pitas are softened, either cut in half or split open the top edge for half or whole pitas.   They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for 1 to 2 months.

Product Review - Organic Mama Shop

When I was at Edel, I loved the vendor tables. So many beautiful items! (But, alas, so little money!) 

One table in particular that really impressed me was Organic Mamas Shop. (There's a Facebook page, too.)

I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a beautiful necklace.

The beads were my favorite shade of slate blue, and the pendant was an elegant wooden "M" with a miraculous medal embedded in it. Isn't it beautiful?

It has ten beads so it can be used as a one-decade rosary as well. 

Look at those gorgeous shades of blue! I had to buy it. 

Then, Shannon (the lovely proprietor of the shop) told me that my purchase was part of a special promotion -- spend more than $20 and pick out free nursing necklace! Peter's getting to the age where he likes to try pull my hair while nursing, so this was fantastic news to me. They were all in paper bags so I had Luisa pick one at random, and to my delight I got one that was the same blue as my necklace!

Both necklaces are made with organic cotton cord (so no metal allergies to worry about, if you have any).

Plus, they're fully adjustable!

I'm so pleased with both of them that I immediately volunteered when Shannon asked if any customers wanted to do a blog review.

Also, because Shannon is just that awesome, she offered a discount coupon for my readers!

If you purchase anything from her shop and enter the code STAROFHOPE, you'll get 25% off!  How awesome is that? There's a catch, though -- the code will only be good for the next TEN days. So you have until August 22 to take advantage.

Be sure to check out her gorgeous rosaries and rosary bracelets, too. (FYI... my wedding anniversary is in less than a month. And my birthday is in November. Just thought I'd throw that out there.) ;)

Happy shopping!

Catholic Working Mothers

Hello friends! For anyone who is interested, I've started a Facebook support group for Catholic moms who work outside the home. Full- or part-time, in-home businesses and freelancers included.

Peter approves this message. 

If I Was Stranded on a Deserted Island...

Recently I was contacted by Man Crates and asked to write a post about what I'd like to have in a survival kit if I was stranded on a deserted island and found a crate washed up on shore.

[What are Man Crates, you ask? Well, I'll let them speak for themselves:

We say 'no' to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets. We don't save wrapping paper, we don't do ribbons.

We ship bragworthy gifts for guys. Gifts that you can't wait to arrive because you know the recipient will love opening them.

Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.

We are Man Crates, and we deliver awesome gifts for men.]

And while these gifts may be primarily designed for men, I saw many that I'd love as well! For example, I'd be beyond heaven if I found one of their Bacon Crates waiting for me. *drool*

But, failing that, these would be my top five items in my Survival Crate:

(1) Flint and Steel

Matches run out eventually, and trying to start a fire by twirling a stick is both tedious and tiring. Flint and steel, however, won't wear out and are fairly easy to use to start a fire.

(2) Mosquito repellent

I HATE MOSQUITOES, and unless I'm on a deserted island with no vegetation, chances are I'll share it with mosquitoes. I'd want something to keep the obnoxious little beasties from eating me alive.

(3) Sunscreen

I'm a lily-white Scandinavian, and I've had people ask me if I'm albino despite the fact that my eyes are blue, not pink. Sunscreen, at least SPF 30, is a MUST.

(4) Hammock

Sleeping on the ground doesn't really appeal to me. I think a hammock sounds like a much better alternative. I'd love to fall asleep gently swaying in the breeze while listening to the sounds of the ocean. A covered hammock would be even better for rainy nights.

doesn't that look lovely?

(5) Books

When I was 14, I went to Washington, D.C. and, while there, visited the Library of Congress. In the gift shop, I bought a mug and a tote bag that both said, "I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson." (I still have both the mug and the bag!) It's absolutely true for me; I'd shrivel up and fade away if I didn't have anything to read while swinging in that hammock. Ideally, I'd want the complete works of G.K. Chesterton and L.M. Mongtomery, and maybe the entire run of my guilty pleasure, the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb. I'd also want some how to manuals for desert island survival, such as Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe. ;)

What about you? What's your must-have item for survival on a deserted island?

The Edel Gathering 2014 - Day 3

Sorry for the delay in my day 3 recap! I was trying to be productive around my house (futile, I know).

Luisa and I didn't fly out of Austin until 9:30pm, so we had the entire day to sight-see.

We started our day with the La Quinta continental breakfast, which featured some very special waffles:

Which then inspired me to make this meme:

After breakfast we went to Mass at the gorgeous St. Mary's Cathedral, just a block or two away from our hotel.

After Mass we browsed St. Mary's gift shop for a bit, then headed back to La Quinta to pack up and check out. The front desk clerk graciously agreed to let us keep our bags there for a few hours so we didn't have to drag them along with us.

(While we were checking out, another hotel patron had a seizure right outside the hotel and had to be rushed to the hospital. Say a prayer for her? I've been thinking about her often and hope she's doing okay.)

After checking out we grabbed some lunch and Subway and walked to the Museum of the Weird.

Oddly, they did not have my picture hanging up inside. Talk about an oversight.

We didn't actually go in, because the $12 per person entry fee was a bit steep. But we browsed the gift shop for a while.

We explored a bit more. I loved the little plaques detailing Texas history that were all over the downtown area.

We found Collin's mothership - a combination arcade & bar. I want to go back to Austin with him someday (sans minor children) just so we can check it out:

And I want to go here, too:

This made me laugh:

As did this:

After a while we were tired and hungry and wanted to charge our phones, so we stopped at the Driskill Hotel for some Texas pecan pie.

Peter approved.

And the pie was marvelous.

Fueled by pie, we walked to the Capitol building.

First we went to the visitor's center and checked out their exhibits, such as flags that used to fly over the capitol when Texas was a republic:

I loved the visitor's center -- they had many interactive exhibits for kids and lots of interesting tidbits about Texas history (such as the life story of O. Henry). They also had a 6,600 lb safe on display that used to be part of the land office (which was what the building was used for prior to its conversion to the visitor's center). There was a great gift shop, too.

It was a short walk from the visitor's center to the actual Capitol building, and along the way we saw this vintage drinking fountain. It was in use until 1980, when new water regulations mandated that it couldn't be used anymore.

Doesn't it look like Narnia should be around somewhere?

The Capitol building was spectacular. I was quite impressed.

view from the rotunda

All the doors had these beautiful ornate hinges. 

The House chamber

Rotunda floor, as seen from above

Capitol research library

There used to be a bank of pay phones here, I'm sure.
Now that everyone has a cell phone, they're gone, but the shells remain.

This was labeled "Unknown Judge." I'm fascinated by it.
How did they know he was a judge, but not know his name?

The Texas Capitol building contains a chapel. (It wasn't open to the public.)
I hope many of the employees make use of it.

Giant portrait of Davy Crockett!

Alamo memorial

Texas rangers memorial
Once we were done sightseeing, we retrieved our bags from La Quinta and walked to a restaurant called the Brick Oven, which was coincidentally across the street from our bus stop. Marvelous Italian food -- I had a custom pizza (alfredo sauce, cheese, garlic, chicken, and spinach) and Luisa had an enormous calzone. We finished our meal just in time to catch the bus to the airport.

It was a fun day and a nice cap to the conference. I was glad we had the chance to see some of Austin -- it's a beautiful city and I'd love to go back sometime.

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